The RenewAmerica website is the eighth winner of the Curmudgeon’s coveted Buffoon Award. We haven’t written about their material for more than a year, however, because most of it is too goofy even for us. What we found there today confirms the wisdom of both decisions — the award, and our avoidance of the website.
Their headline is Did the sun stand still for Joshua – scientifically? They don’t have a comments feature. The article was written by Dan Popp, described as “a Christian, a husband, and a small-business owner. Writing has been part of his profession since the late 1970’s.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Scoffers love to laugh at the Old Testament miracle of the “sun standing still.” But the writer of this account may be more scientific than his critics. Let’s start with the science. This is not a trick question, but you must answer carefully: Does the earth revolve around the sun?
Think hard, dear reader. The question is really whether you accept the solar system advocated by Galileo, with the planets orbiting the sun, rather than the biblical description of an Earth-centered system, which we described in The Earth Does Not Move! Danny says:
The scientific answer is, “There’s not enough information to answer the question.” We must know, “From what point of reference?” We can say that the earth revolves around the sun – if we’re standing on the sun. But that point is chosen arbitrarily. From the reference point of a space ship outside the solar system, both the earth and the sun revolve around their common center of gravity.
If we fly our space ship much farther away, we would answer that both the earth and the sun move together around the center of the galaxy. In a universe where everything is in motion, we can only describe the speed and direction of something in relation to some other moving object that we must arbitrarily think of as “fixed.”
Smart, huh? Danny has explained that the question has no correct answer — it all depends on your point of reference. After that he tells us:
Now let’s look at what the Bible actually says:
Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. (Joshua 10:12, 13, NAS95)
Yup. That passage, by the way, was some of the evidence used against Galileo at his heresy trial. Danny continues:
Did you notice that the writer was painstakingly specific about the reference point? From the point of view of an observer at Gibeon, in the valley of Aijalon, the sun stood still in the middle of the sky. From reference point X looking at field Y, motion was observed to cease.
Clever, huh? You gotta define the point of reference. Hey — maybe Joshua and all the combatants were suddenly transported to the North Pole. That would do the job.
Then Danny discusses the interrogation scene in the movie Inherit the Wind, a dramatization of the Scopes Trial, where the Clarence Darrow character was interrogating the William Jennings Bryan character about the sun standing still for Joshua. (The movie’s dialog in that scene is an accurate account of the actual trial transcript, by the way.) After several lines of the movie dialog, Danny announces:
The lawyer Drummond [Darrow] repeatedly misstates what the Bible relates. Then he proceeds to make inferences based on the flawed science of his day. I hope the real Clarence Darrow wasn’t quite this stupid! If we instead take the facts as they’re given, with the sun standing still relative to an observer on the ground at point X, then nothing can be inferred about a pre-Copernican view of the solar system.
See? It’s all relative! Danny devotes a few more paragraphs to defending the bible account. For example:
But what if YHWH simply allowed some people to experience time the way He does? The Creator of space/time doesn’t live each moment consecutively, as we do. … If He were to pull back the curtain and allow us His perspective on the scene, then the sun – and the moon, too – could seem to have stopped. (It may help to think in science fiction terms and say that God “froze time.”)
That makes sense! Let’s read on:
And there are other possible explanations. What is not allowed is to remove relevant details from the text, make invalid inferences, switch assumptions in mid-argument, then laugh as if you had made fools of those dumb, deluded, anti-science Christians.
Are you feeling foolish, dear reader? Quite understandable. Here’s the end of Danny’s essay:
Within my parents’ lifetime, scientists have finally accepted that the universe had a definite beginning (derided by astrophysicist Fred Hoyle as the “Big Bang,”) that elements can be dissolved, and that continents move. The ignorant shepherds who wrote their silly myths in the Bible knew all of those things thousands of years ago. It’s almost as if they had help.
So there you are. According to Danny, the Sun really did appear to stand still for Joshua — and it makes perfect sense.
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